Third one in the bucket :) Always such a big honor to be able to represent Canada, but nothing beats being able to represent Canada in Canada. Mont St Anne fans are absolutely amazing, and Mont St Anne never fails to put on a an amazing weekend of racing.
Yesterday was the elite XC races, last big XC racing of the season.....oh ya, and Mont St Anne never fails to be one of the hardest, most physically demanding courses on the circuit. I felt that I had recovered very from Transrockies, feeling the fitness from that week of racing kicking in, and all recovered from the team relay, really great to do some uber high intensity following all the base. Woke up sat morning to the sound of rain sprinkling down...which progressively turned harder and harder till the rain was hammering down as we suited up to head out for warm up.
I had a good start, held my own up the first long gravel climb, got boggled up, turned sideways, bumped by another rider, ended up running up a short section of the climb. Cyclocrossed quickly back on the bike and back into line. Entering the first singletrack everything was quickly bottlenecked and we were all off our bikes walking - this unfortunately costs us a lot of time as the leaders get farther and farther ahead...oh well, gotta earn that front row call up. Remounting in line just before the rock garden more commonly known as "Beatrice" I found myself right behind Amanda Sin's wheel. A quick look of Beatrice showed a line of girls running down the rocks....what's more sketchy then running down wet rock in bike shoes with cleats??? Yikes. I followed Amanda down the chicken line...which by the way really isn't that much easier, but there is a lot less risk....and we ended up passing about 7 positions, and settled into the top 25ish.
Following the rock garden we were sent straight up the most grueling grass climb that just gets steeper and steeper, and steeply switchbacks 4 times at the top before leveling out slightly over some slick rock. This drops down into the last technical climb before some fast loose descending all the way back down to the village. From there, the majority of the climbing is done as the course then winds through some fun, fast and flowy singletrack that is in mint condition from the rain in the morning. I found this section pretty hard, wanting to push the pace really hard because it was so fun, but so gassed from all the climbing previously in the lap.
Second lap through, I was able to pick off a couple more positions and actually worked up the nerve to ride Beatrice.....which I found out afterwards that I was only one of 3 girls that had even tried to ride it thus far in the race. Third lap I dabbed a little entering the rock garden, which didn't set me up very good for the entrance, but I decided to give it a go again.....half way down I down I found myself loosing control of the front tire and start sliding out sideways. It could have been a really bad crash but I managed to hang onto the bike as long as possible and ended up just skidding out on left knee slightly.....but i sufficiently scared myself into taking the chicken line for the remainder of the race....haha...oh well, better safe then sorry, especially when the chicken line is only about 5 secs slower.
I had felt really strong and happy with my race up until the 4th lap....then things started going a little sideways. My body started cramping up all over, my arms and my legs started feeling so heavy, any slightly sideways pedal stroke lead to bad cramping in my hamstrings. Regan even said that he heard me whimpering on course. I don't think that I have ever felt such a full body rejection of physical activity in my life before...it was an absolutely horrible feeling. At some times the only thing that kept me going was amazing Canadian fans cheering from every corner of the course, hearing my parents and the various Trek Canada jersey's yelling at me, and definitely having Regan running is butt off encouraging me from about 47 different locations a lap! Hugest thanks to everyone !!!!!!
I was able to pull it together a little for the 5th and final lap, with a mantra of "Come on, come on, come on, come on" with every single pedal stroke of the lap. Finished strong in 29th and definitely "left everything on the course"...haha, ya I know a little bit of a cliche but I had to sit on the ground at the finish line with a can of coke for about 10 mins after the finish before I could hobble off to the tents.
It was a great day for team Canada with Catharine Pendrel breaking her 6th place curse with an incredible performance to finish 4th, Marie Helene in 9th and Amanda Sin in 28th. On the men's side Geoff Kabush finished 8th, nailing Beatrice every lap with his characteristic smooth style. Go Canada !!!!!!
Just saw my two carbon bikes off, the Trek Top Fuel and the Trek 9.9.....no more carbon bikes for me this year. Two weeks to switch gears and get ready for cross season....Starcrossed and RadRacing in Washington....hehe....life is fun !!!!!!
Huge thanks to Dan Proulx and the rest of the team Canada crew, as well as Scott Kelly and the rest of the team Canada mechanics....for the awesome week!